Church campaign to tackle vaccine misinformation launched
The Give Hope campaign encourages Christians to facilitate 'clear and kind conversations with some who may be reticent about taking the vaccine'
Cross denominational leaders of the Christian faith have joined forces with the NHS to launch a campaign aimed at encouraging a more balanced conversation around the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Give Hope campaign aims to tackle much of the misinformation that has caused distrust, particularly in black majority communities and churches. It encourages Christians to engage with vaccine discussions and for them to start a conversation with their neighbours and communities.
The Give Hope campaign has been organised by YourNeighbour, a UK-wide church response to Covid-19. It is backed by Baptist Union President Yinka Oyekan, who appears in a short video introducing the campaign, alongside Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York, Pastor Agu Irukwu, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Bishop of Dover, and other senior church leaders.
It is hoped the initiative will encourage church leaders, particularly within the black community, to have the conversation with their congregations and in their communities to dispel fake news, allay fears and come together to give hope and hasten the end of COVID-19.
The chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens has described “genuine and deep concern” that uptake of COVID -19 vaccines may be lower among minority ethnic groups. A recent poll of 2000 UK adults by the Royal Society for Public Health found that three quarters (76 per cent) of people overall would willingly have a Covid vaccination—but this fell to 57 per cent of respondents from minority ethnic backgrounds.
YourNeighbour has sought input from NHS England and Public Health England, and partnered with the behavioural scientists at Ice Creates to understand the complexities around vaccine hesitancy and how to work with communities to build trust and uptake in the vaccine.
Russ Rook, co-founder of YourNeighbour said, 'Over the coming months, we will be supporting Christian leaders and activists to change the narrative around the COVID-19 vaccines in their communities.
'By helping to communicate directly with hard to reach groups that may miss out, facilitating clear and kind conversations with some who may be reticent and providing practical support to those who need it, UK churches are playing a vital role in our country’s recovery from COVID-19.'
Bishop of Dover, The Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin said, 'When you are offered the opportunity to get your Covid vaccination, I want you to take it. There are distracting voices in our black and minority ethnic communities spreading doubt and alarm. And while I understand the fear and concern, listening to those voices alone will rob us of the need to live flourishing lives with our families and friends.
'These vaccines offer us a path through the pandemic, giving us hope, strength and the chance of safety. If the vaccine was good enough for Her Majesty, then it is good enough for us.'
In the film Yinka Oyekan says, 'While our churches may look different, there's one thing we are all agreed upon. We have to do everything in our power to give hope - and stop Covid.'
His words are immediately followed by Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York stating, 'One thing we can all do is ensure we take the vaccine when we are offered it - this is one of the best and fastest routes out of this terrible pandemic.'
Churches can access a range of resources to help them engage their communities in the conversation at www.yourneighbour.org.